SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

INGOLF DAHL: Concerto a tre; BOHUSLAV MARTINU: Serenade for to clarinets, violin, viola & cello; KAREL HUSA: Evocations de Slovaquie – Sonolumina Ensemble – Isomike

One or two clarinets and two or three strings make a rich and satisfying chamber sound, like a mini-symphony.

Published on December 19, 2008

INGOLF DAHL: Concerto a tre; BOHUSLAV MARTINU: Serenade for to clarinets, violin, viola & cello; KAREL HUSA: Evocations de Slovaquie – Sonolumina Ensemble – Isomike

INGOLF DAHL: Concerto a tre; BOHUSLAV MARTINU: Serenade for to clarinets, violin, viola & cello; KAREL HUSA: Evocations de Slovaquie – Sonolumina Ensemble – Isomike Multichannel (4.0) SACD SONOCD1, 57 min. [www.isomike.com] *****:

Sonolumina is an aggregation of top chamber music artists, including on this recording: Dara Morales, violin; Russell Harlow, clarinet; Jesus Morales, cello; Lee Levengood, clarinet; and Leslie Harlow, violin.  They recorded these three chamber works in the Browning Center for the Performing Art at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, using the unique IsoMike acoustic baffle system designed by Ray Kimber of Kimber Kable. For this series of multichannel SACDs, the mikes are suspended on four arms, separated by the special IsoMike heart or tear-drop-shaped baffles.  The baffles absorb the energy of interfering interchannel sounds, making the mikes able to pick up extreme acoustic details.

These works will probably be new to most listeners, but be assured they are primarily tonal and lovely listening.  One or two clarinets and two or three strings make a rich and satisfying chamber sound, like a mini-symphony. The clarinet sound is especially natural and pleasing.  In fact clarinetist Harlow says he has searched for a number of years for an approach to properly present the unique clarinet sound and feels with Isomike that he has found that sound.  

The Martinu work was my favorite on the album.  Composed in 1951, the four-movement work shows the composer’s unique take on the Czech classical idiom.  The quintet of players also allows for a richer instrumental sound.  The three movements of the closing work by Husa are titled The Mountain, Night and Dance.  Though the composer is Czech, the piece is more in the style of Hungarian composers Kodaly and Bartok, using contemporary harmonic and melodic treatments of Slavic folk themes.

 - John Sunier




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